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Reluctant Skeptic: Siegfried Kracauer and the Crises of Weimar Culture

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Volume 14

Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association

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Reluctant Skeptic

Siegfried Kracauer and the Crises of Weimar Culture

Harry T. Craver

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294 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-458-0 25% OFF! $130.00/£92.00 $97.50/£69.00 Hb Published (February 2017)

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Reluctant Skeptic opens a window into a moment and a place in time through in-depth analysisof Kracauer’s polyphonic engagement with pressing contemporary questions and the role of the critic in assessing them. It makes no claim that Kracauer’s perceptions of secularization and religion offer the paramount vantage point from which to take the measure of the crises we associate with Weimar, and it acknowledges that Kracauer’s attentiveness to religion ebbed in the later 1920s. It succeeds admirably in creating an intellectual milieu analogous to the socio-cultural or socio-denominational milieus explored in studies of Weimar political culture It also offers a fresh perspective on the intellectual uncertainties of the post-war era.” • German History

“Unpretentiously written and based on a judicious interpretation of a wide range of materials, Reluctant Skeptic contributes to our understanding not only of Siegfried Kracauer’s intellectual development, but also of Weimar culture as a whole.” • Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley


The journalist and critic Siegfried Kracauer is best remembered today for his investigations of film and other popular media, and for his seminal influence on Frankfurt School thinkers like Theodor Adorno. Less well known is his earlier work, which offered a seismographic reading of cultural fault lines in Weimar-era Germany, with an eye to the confrontation between religious revival and secular modernity. In this discerning study, historian Harry T. Craver reconstructs and richly contextualizes Kracauer’s early output, showing how he embodied the contradictions of modernity and identified the quasi-theological impulses underlying the cultural ferment of the 1920s.

Harry T. Craver holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and currently teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His work has appeared in publications such as New German Critique.

Subject: 20th Century History General Cultural Studies Media Studies
Area: Germany



Introduction: Kracauer on and in Weimar Modernity

Chapter 1. “Location Suggests Content”: Kracauer on the Fringe of Religious Revival
Chapter 2. Reading the War, Writing Crisis
Chapter 3. From Copenhagen to Baker Street: Kracauer, Kierkegaard and the Detective Novel
Chapter 4. Religion on the Street: Kracauer and Religious Flânerie

Conclusion: Criticism in the Negative Church
Afterword: From Don Quixote to Sancho Panza


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